Friday, April 27, 2007

“And that’s the way it is.”

Had you been an American television watcher in the sixties, you would have recognised this picture as being one of a famous news anchor: Walter Cronkite.

Walter Leland Cronkite, Jr. was born on 4th November1916 in Missouri and raised in Texas. He studied between 1933 and 1935 at the University of Texas at Austin, but then dropped college to work on a series of reporting jobs. His official career as a journalist started with World War II, during which he was a well-known correspondent in North-Africa and Europe. He then covered the Nuremberg trials after the war. In 1950, back in America, he entered the young television division of CBS (Columbian Broadcasting System), which was one of the three broadcast networks of the country at that time. He worked there as a reporter until he became the anchorman of CBS Evening News in 1962.
There, he soon became a very popular journalist, considered as professional, and therefore a very influential figure in America. A first thing that made him popular was the little ritual sentence that he would say to end each broadcast: “And that’s the way it is.” His fame is though not to be reduced to one single sentence. Walter Cronkite is also acclaimed for his professionalism: he is perceived as being honest and objective, so that he was called “the most trusted man in America”. Moreover, he covered many important events. On 22nd November 1963, he was the first to break the news of the assassination of President Kennedy. Later, his perception of the Vietnam War has also had an important influence on the people’s mind: when he said that Vietnam War was unwinnable, President Johnson’s reaction was “If I've lost Walter Cronkite, I've lost Middle America.” Johnson’s quote says all about the anchor’s enormous influence.
Besides, Cronkite has always been very interested in science and space. During his career, he enthusiastically reported on U.S. space programs; and now he is still promoting space and science in broadcasts and productions. He was the first non astronaut to receive NASA’s Ambassador of Exploration Award.
Walter Conkrite retired on 14th February 1980, delivering a farewell speech during his last news broadcast. He has however not completely disappeared from the television world: the ninety-year-old man still gives lectures and makes television appearances.

At a time when television was beginning to dominate the news world, Walter Cronkite has been a leading figure of journalism. Today, he is still very much admired and his discourse is still very influential. He belongs to the fathers of modern news broadcast on television.

Pauline Degrave and Benjamin Terwagne

No comments: